EnneagramFourth Way Gurdjieff Ouspensky School Education Concerning the Work Teachings of G. I. Gurdjieff, P. D. Ouspensky, Maurice Nicoll, and their students.
fourthwayschool/ Cosmology/ Three Forces
1994 Navigation

Three Forces

The Law of Three is one of the two fundamental Laws of our Universe. It governs creation or manifestation. Nothing can come into being, nothing can happen, without the conjunction of three forces. One or two forces on their own will not produce a result. This means that there can be no creation without laws. Something will come under the Law of Three at the very moment it comes into existence. Thus everything in creation is under laws, and nothing created is free.

The three forces are as follows: there is an Active Force, a Passive Force, and a Neutralising Force. The three forces have several names, and are also given numbers --- 1, 2, and 3 respectively.

One can think of the Active Force as being the force that is acting, the Passive Force as being the thing that is acted upon, and the Neutralising force as being the thing that allows the other two forces to interact. The combination of reactant, reagent and catalyst in chemistry is a general example of the three forces interacting. The fact that catalysts are not used up by the chemical reactions they take part in and their method of allowing the reactions to occur is invisible are general features of the 3rd Force.

It is very important to understand that the forces are not things. They are invisible. Thoughts and desires are good examples of these forces. The forces act though things. This means the same object can have different forces acting through it in different processes. We can build a house out of a block of wood, we can set fire to it, or we can hit someone over the head with it. Thus the three forces are always to do with the particular relation between things.

We must start with ourselves when we wish to observe the three forces, because we are the closest and most constant thing we have to watch. And the only practical way to observe the three forces in ourselves is to try and do something, that is, to try and imitate or personify one of the three forces.

One could imitate the Active Force, for example, by struggling with ignorance. One could imitate the Passive Force, by trying not to express one particular negative emotion towards one particular person in one's life. Some typical small, habitual negative emotions are:

Psychologically speaking, the Active Force is what one wants, and the Passive Force is what resists one's efforts. It is quite enough to study just these two forces at first, because it is impossible to see 3rd Force until you can see 1st and 2nd Force. To study even one force requires not only that we try something, but also that we remember that we are trying to study a force. So this in itself requires our attention to be divided. We cannot observe a force while we are identified with it.

We must remember that we are attempting something very difficult in studying the three forces:

Do not attempt to try and see 3rd Force. It is quite useless at first. But try and see 1st Force and then 2nd Force. You cannot see 2nd Force unless you see 1st Force. It is 1st Force that makes 2nd Force appear. If you want nothing, there is no 2nd Force, in so far as your desire is concerned. People do not even know what 1st Force is in themselves---that is, they do not know what they really want.
One reason why we have so much difficulty in understanding three forces is that we tend to see in everything one force. We think of force as one, and in everything that happens, in any manifestation, in any event, we tend to see merely one force. We attribute it to one force. We see one action in one event. This is partly due to our inability to think of more than one thing at a time as a rule. Sometimes we think in terms of two things, but to think of three things is beyond us---i.e. it is beyond formatory thought.
Maurice Nicoll, Commentaries I, 1942.01.25.

At a more advanced stage, we can start to consider the different ordering of the Three Forces. There actually six possible combinations of the Three Forces, leading to six distinct processes.

Taking the example of trade, with the three forces being Man, products, and money, we can see that a man can use money as a tool, he can serve it as an end in itself, or he can end up pursuing the product he desires. The three forces are combining in quite different relations here. In relation to others, some processes are better or worse, and some are just different. But at this stage, when we rarely distinguish one force, we should just, Observe, observe, observe.

Notes From Discussion

The Three Forces always act, not just when we think we can see them. If there is a struggle going on inside us between `yes' and `no', something may well come along and act as Third Force, with the result that something happens. It does not need to be the Work. The Work will be Third Force when we resolve a dilemma by following what the Work says. We cannot escape the Law of Three, but we can choose to place ourselves under a better or worse influence.

For instance, we may be struggling to not express hatred for another member of the group. We might succeed in this struggle because we remember that we are trying to study Second Force. We might succeed because we remember the Food Diagram, and realise we don't want to lose energy. We might remember this is Second Line work. Or we might succeed just because we have an attitude of, 'Must not express negative emotions.' In the latter case, it would be better to understand why one was not expressing negative emotions.

It is difficult to answer questions like, 'Is this 1st Force, that 2nd Force, and the other 3rd Force?' because we cannot verify them. They may or may not be so. One should concentrate on something practical, on understanding just one of these forces for oneself.

Other Sources

You can help support this site. (With thanks to Granny's Kitchen.)
Thank you!
1996 Title